Author: basquebookseditor (page 1 of 7)

Write! Write! Write Basque stories and win!

It’s time for our writing contest again, so we are calling all Basque storytellers! Tell us you story, win prizes, be published.

Have questions? Send them to basquestudies@gmail.com!

Held in conjunction with the Basque Studies Program at Boise State Unversity

Joseba Zulaika’s “That Old Bilbao Moon” reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

The latest issue of the journal of this eminent institute contains a glowing review of Joseba Zulaika’s book. Written by Isaac Marrero-Guillamóm, the review opens to the heart of this remarkable book, “This is not a book about Bilbao, nor is it an ethnography of the Basque city. It is, rather, a multi-layered by-product of Bilbao—a book possessed by its history, people, ghosts, and art.”

You should click here and read the whole review, but I want to leave you with the final words of the review:

Ultimately, this book is recommended for those interested in the anthropology of the Spanish transition to democracy. It is also a remarkable experiment in auto-ethnographic writing. Its opening lines are a compelling invitation to the potential reader:

It was the spring of 1999 and a Carnival Monday morning when I returned for a visit to San Felicísimo (‘Saint Happiest’) – the Bilbao monastery where in the 1960s, as a teenager and for almost a decade, I tried hard to become a saint, but was finally expelled, an atheist and suicidal (p. 9).

If you don’t have a copy of this “remarkable” (a sentiment I could not agree with more) book, buy it right now!

Browse here

Basque culture, Basque books, and bertsoak bloom in Elko at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

The Center’s booth at the Western Mercantile

It was our pleasure here at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies to be invited to participate in the 34th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering held annually in Elko, Nevada. This year’s festival was focused on the contributions of Basques in the West and included sessions on Basque arborglyphs, Basque poetry, Basque writing, the experience of Basques in ranching—featuring the insight of longtime Nevada resident and stalwart of Winnemucca’s Basque community, Frank Bidart—only 95 years young!

Portrait of beloved Basque sheepherder and owner—and shepherd of generations of 4-H sheep program participants in the Reno area—Abel Mendeguia, by Linda Dufurrena, on display in the Western Folklife Center

One of the highlights of the whole show was the participation of berstolariak, especially those from the Basque Country including reigning champion Maialen Lujanbio, as well as Oihana Iguaran Barandiaran and Miren Artetxe! The Basque bertsolariak were also accompanied by US Basque improvisers Jesus Goñi from Reno and Martin Goicoechea from Rock Springs, Wyoming. From Buffalo, Wyoming, Center author and musician David Romtvedt participated in many musical venues playing generally with his daughter Caitlin, and they were also a common sight to be seen playing after hours, usually in the company of Ardi Baltza accordionist Anamarie Lopategui. Basque-American author and Elko native Vince Juaristi was also in attendance with his stories of growing up Basque in the US. There were also dance performances by Elko’s Ardi Baltza and Elko Ariñak dancers, the latter being accompanied by Mercedes Mendive and Melodikoa. Popular Basque musical group Amerikanuak played, led by Jean Flesher from Salt Lake City, a true pioneer of Basque culture in the US (as many of the people mentioned here are), with members from as far away as Berlin, Germany in attendance! The Basque show on Thursday night was hosted by the Center’s own Kate Camino. Center friend and author Joxe Mallea presented on aspen carvings and artist Zoe Bray painted portraits of Basques and presented her portraits at the Western Folklife Center. The session on Basque writing featured the readings from My Mama Marie by Joan Errea, Florence Larraneta Frye, David Romtvedt, who read from Zelestina Urza in Outer Space and Elko’s own Gretchen Skivington who presented on and read from her brand new novel Echevarria. And I’m sure I’m forgetting someone or many people, the numbers of Basque participants was truly a wonder to behold.

The Center also participated in the show’s vendors with stand in the Western Mercantile. After hours, the Basque party continued at Elko’s Ogi Deli and the Star Hotel!

We have come a long ways from when cowboys and sheepherders fought range wars in this same part of northern Nevada. It was such a pleasure to be included and for Basque contributions to be recognized by all the cowpunchers! 😉

Ongi Etorri to the 2017-2018 academic year at the Center!



We are so excited for the beginning of the 2017 Fall semester at the William Douglass Center for Basque Studies! This year we will continue offering undergraduate and graduate classes in many aspects of Basque culture. We would like to welcome Mariann Vaczi, who is joining the faculty and will be teaching a course on Basque Transnationalism in the United States. More about Mariann joining us will come in its own post, but in the meantime we for sure want to say welcome!

This semester, we are offering 5 courses:

 

Elementary Basque

Instructor: Kate Camino

Introduction to the language through the development of written and conversational language skills and through structural analysis. Emphasis on Unified Basque but includes an introduction to the dialects.

 

Contemporary Basque Politics

Xabier Irujo

History and legal status of Basque Politics within Spain and the European Union with particular emphasis on Post-Franco nationalist movements and party development.

 

Museums, Architecture, City Renewal: The Bilbao Guggenheim

 Joseba Zulaika

Introduction to the complex architectural, museistic, local/global, artistic, political and epistemological issues presented by the first global museum in its first franchise.

 

Basque Culture

Sandy Ott

Survey of the culture of the Basque, including occupations, cultural institutions, oral traditions and art, as well as their transformations in emigrant settings such as the American West.

 

Basque Transnationalism in the United States

Mariann Vaczi

Theories of globalization, social identity, diaspora foreign policy, identity construction, and nationalism are utilized to compare Basque individual and institutionalized ethnicity in the United States.

Heading into the Fall, here’s a recap of our summer publishing!

It has been an extremely busy summer here at the Center press, and now that students, new faculty and grad students are trickling in, we thought it would be a great idea to just quickly recap our summer publishing season!

Might post more on these individually, but just want to gather them together like a family portrait!

Bitter Justice: The Penitentiary of El Puerto de Santa María and Its Basque Dimension, 1936-1949

By David Lyon

ISBN 9781935709800

$32.00

Incarceration of political enemies was a principal strategy for repression by the Francoist regime during the Civil War and Franco’s early rule and El Puerto de Santa María, in Andalusia, was a major prison. Bitter Justice tells the story of some of its prisoners, focusing on the Basque dimension and based on newly cataloged prison files, interviews with family members of prisoners, and research in Cádiz and Basque archives. The book tells the story of these prisoners: their charges, sentences, and conditions of release, which were generally more stringent for Basque prisoners than others. And El Puerto contained more Basque prisoners than all the other Andalusian prisons put together. In addition, Bitter Justice considers important interrelated issues: El Puerto’s background including conditions and treatment of its inmates; Basque prisoners’ conditions; a presentation of collective memories of Basque prisoners’ relatives relating to the prisoners’ lives before, during, and perhaps as important, after their return to their communities. The book also presents case studies of “offenders” and analyzes any inconsistencies of sentences, charges, and release conditions that affected Basque and Cádiz prisoners. This research shows that prison irregularities, and discrimination against those convicted from the Basque Country, were normal. This history, the first of its kind, sheds a new light on the terrible early repression of the Franco regime and its effect on many lives.

 

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors

by Maite González Esnal

$16.00

ISBN 9781935709855

Journeys, Fruits, Neighbors is an epic ramble through space and time—from the modern day Fryslân, The Netherlands, to the Basque Country in the years of privation after the Civil War. The stories are precise and radiant, thoughtful and emotional. They are filled with memorable characters: a Good Samaritan who offers coffee and registers birds, and who is, in his own words, “the master of my sounds, I only hear birdsong”; the railway man, Jean, whose true calling is his garden; and many more. Through these stories the narrator shines, illuminating with her inner musings, memories, and recollections both large and small. In turns contemplative, active, reflective, and expansive the result is a collection that glitters and resounds. Although it resists definition—being part travelogue, memoir, short story collection, and more—it is always filled with insight, stunning imagery, and a deep and wide heart.

 

Far Western Basque Country

by Asun Garikano

$31.95

ISBN 9781935709787

The experience of Basque immigrants to the United States has come in many shapes and forms, and Asun Garikano takes nearly all of them into account in this comprehensive look at the lives of the ordinary men and women who made the brave journey to the US West in search of a better life. Although their experiences were very diverse, one commonality was the aid they received from fellow Basques. They were often met at the dock in New York City with the familiar sound of their language and helped to find a place on the transcontinental train with their names and destinations pinned to their coats. They worked at ranches, farms and businesses often owned by people from their same hometowns. They found conversation, fellowship, and cheer at boardinghouses where they shared the games, drinks, language, and food of their homeland. In Far Western Basque Country these and many other stories are told about the individual immigrants that made up the Basque diaspora in the United States. Some stayed, some returned, some lost money, some became rich and powerful. They adopted their new homeland and its ways. They fought in its wars, celebrated its highs and suffered its lows, but in the face of it, they all remained Basque.

A Man Called Aita

By Joan Errea

$15.00

ISBN 9781935709824

A Man Called Aita is Joan Errea’s loving, moving, heartfelt, and honest tribute to her father, Arnaud Paris—aita is the Basque word for “father.” But it is so much more than that: it is the continued story of her mother, also told in Joan’s book My Mama Marie; it is the story of her brothers Arnaud, Mike, Johnny, and Pete; of her adored Uncle Otto; of ranch hands; and of dogs and goats and sheep and horses and cattle. Written in beguilingly simple rhymed verse, the story is not simple, nor is it entirely carefree—there are deaths, injuries, losses great and small, disease, trials and tribulations. There is humor, there is love, there are grand personalities written across the western landscape. At its heart is a tremendous loss that has been felt by all who have lost a beloved parent. Beyond its deeply personal story, this book is also a testimony to the ranching way of life in the Western United States and the place of Basques within it. Written in the style of the Basque bertsolari, and taking as inspiration her father, who was also a troubador of this oral tradition, the small book you hold in your hands is a true gem of the West.

With an introduction by Pello Salaburu.

The International Legacy of Lehendakari Jose A. Agirre’s Government

Edited by Xabier Irujo and Mari Jose Olaziregi

$32.00

ISBN 9781935709817

This book, the result of an extensive international gathering of scholars from many different disciplines and countries, explores the fascinating life of Jose Antonio Agirre (1904–1960), the first lehendakari or president of the Basque Country. A charismatic figure that in many ways transcended the bitter political divisions of the age he lived through, Agirre’s legacy serves as a timely reminder of how maintaining one’s political, social, and cultural convictions need not necessarily serve as a barrier when it comes to promoting dialogue, cooperation, and diplomacy. A Basque nationalist but also an internationalist and strong advocate of an integrated Europe, Agirre’s biography reads as a testament to the mid-twentieth century experience of war and exile, and the chapters herein explore his life in both Europe and the Americas against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the coming of the Cold War.

The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia: In the Time of Major Crises

Edited By Joseba Agirreazkuenaga and Xabier Irujo

$35.00

ISBN 9781935709749

The Basque Fiscal System Contrasted to Nevada and Catalonia seeks to analyze Basque fiscal systems in the context of the 2008 financial crisis. It also aimed to develop a comparative vision with the state of Nevada and Catalonia. It treats the politics of finance in multi-level public institutions during the economic crisis; long-term fiscal policies for dealing with economic downturns during the past twenty years; the development of treasuries in federal states, in non-federal states and in complex unions (Europe); taxation and citizenship in a globalized world; long-term trends for dealing with the crisis and strategies for the future in European and North American contexts (the Basque Country, Catalonia, Spain, Ireland, and Nevada). Most of the book’s contributions by distinguished scholars and public officials relate to the Basque Country, providing an analysis of fiscal policies or the evolution of public finances. A contribution on taxation and gambling is also offered. This book serves as a new contribution to studies on fiscal federalism in Europe and America. We hope that these reflections serve as a turning point to promote debate and for the formulation of future research. Fiscal analysis is now an important research line at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque studies, promoted and in cooperation with the regional government of Bizkaia, with the end of promoting research in a comparative perspective.

The Basque Moment: Egalitarianism and Traditional Basque Society

Edited by Xabier Arregi Gordoa and Andreas Hess

$32.00

ISBN 9781935709732

The discussion of egalitarianism goes to the very heart of Basque identity. The purpose of this book is to explore the concept, and to investigate whether egalitarianism is only a myth or ideology or whether there is some real substance and practice to it. This book approaches the topic of Basque egalitarianism from a broad range of disciplines and sub-disciplines, including social and contemporary history, sociology, political science, social anthropology and political philosophy. It also brings together people of different political conviction, spanning the divides that often occur when Basque traditions and ideas are discussed.

Trout, Trixitixa, and Song: Being Basque in the Big Horns

Harri Mutil high in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming

It was your Basque Book Editor’s absolute honor to be able to attend the 2017 NABO Convention and Basque Festival in Buffalo, Wyoming this. On the Monday following the festival, being a thousand miles from home, I also took advantage of the moment to attend the Basque Sheepherder’s Barbecue held the day after in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. The Big Horn Mountains are absolutely beautiful and it was so great to be able to meet and talk to so many Basques from sheep raising and ranching backgrounds similar to my own but in the lush green of northeastern Wyoming rather than the stark yellow and russets of Nevada.

In the morning carloads of attendees were carted off to local creeks and streams to make the best of the day: cast iron deep fried trout painstakingly prepared along with lukainka sausages by the dozens and side dishes lovingly made and brought to share. Children ran and played and oldsters held down their camp chairs and swapped stories old and new.

Basque performers Errabal, who had been wowing us all weekend, set up on log stumps and started to play and soon Jesus Goñi sang some bertsos for the crowd.

As I would depart straight for Reno early the next morning, I set up my tent and camped at the site and got to the visit with the owners of this little piece of ground. They told me about what they called a “sheepherder’s monument” out on a high ridge a few miles down the road and so I drove down to visit it as the sun set. I climbed up to a giant harri mutil (read another post about these here) on the mountainside and stood and watch the sun set west. It was a lonely life for those early sheepherders whether in the mountains of Wyoming or Nevada, but with communities like the one I had the privilege to visit, it must have made the solitude all that much more bearable for those boys turning into men and men missing families and loved ones in the old country.

A Basque community, like any other immigrant community, changes in the United States, integrates and also makes new traditions all of their own. This post is the first of a series I am planning to write on the events of the Basque festival in Buffalo, so please keep checking back often! Anyone interested in Basques in Buffalo, and the experience of Basques in the West, should definitely check out Buffalotarrak!

Harri mutil, an elephant, and “that was good sheep country”

This past spring your Basque Books Editor had the chance to climb Elephant Mountain, in the far northwestern corner of the Black Rock Wilderness Area, about 7 hours north of Reno by car. This wild and remote mountain, really just a foothill outcropping of the larger Black Rock Range, gets its name from its appearance, of being a elephant charging up the desert. Growing up in this corner of Northern Nevada I spent many days dreaming about that mountain, which in addition to it’s distinctive, imagination-shaping form also served as the edge of the horizon, so, as it were for a young boy riding a horse, it was the very edge of the world.

Elephant Mountain, seen from Leonard Creek Road near the intersection with Pearl Camp Road in northern Nevada

But it wasn’t until a recent weekend that I had the chance to actually scramble up it. On a overcast day we drove south and climbed up along one of its ears. We stopped for lunch in the saddle where ear turns into head and then continued upward. It was a short, steep climb until nearing the top it rounded out and the vast expanse of desert and mountain range after mountain range opened up before us. Loving to explore in the desert moutains, the expanse did not surprise me, but the presence of what was most likely a harri mutil (“stone boy”) did. On the crest, looking generally northward toward the Pine Forest Mountains and eastward toward the Jackson Mountains, and with the full sweep of the desert at its feet, was a large stone marker or, according to Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe in Speaking through Aspens, a “sheepherder’s monument.” These large stone cairns were made by the sheepherders to demarcate ranges, but may have had other uses as well.

The stone marker, looking west toward the Black Rock Mountains proper

The hiking crew, celebrating from where we have come and where we are going!

It was such a pleasure to find this marker, here at the edge of what was once my world, showing what went beyond. I recently had the opportunity to make an oral history interview with Frank Bidart (only 94 years young!) who also grew up in this area when they still ran sheep, and he had told me about trailing sheep down across the desert “almost to Lovelock” in the winter. They would have trailed them just below, maybe across, where I stood. “That was good sheep country,” he had said. Maybe he had climbed here and added his own stones to this harri mutil; maybe he had, as a young man, dreamed about what went beyond it.

Join us in celebrating A Man Called Aita

We are so happy to announce the publication of Joan Errea’s A Man Called Aita. These stories, told in rhyming verse, tell an extraordinarily deep, complex, and moving story about being Basque in the U.S. West and what it was like to grow up on a ranch on the frontier. They tell the story of the life of Joan’s father, aita in Basque, Arnaud Paris, who originally came from Iparralde and herded sheep in Wyoming before venturing out on his own to ranch in Central Eastern and Northern Nevada for many years. There is so much to say about this little book, a true gem of Western Americana, much of it ably done so in Pello Salaburu’s masterful introduction.

“This book narrating the story of Marie’s life is captivating, moving, and very attractive in its simplicity. It shows how wonderful the relationship between the father and daughters was, that Arnaud was a warm man, and that they loved each other a lot and were very close. For Joan, her aita was a role model and a point of reference.”

Here, from A Main Called Aita is the title poem, which says much more than I can:

A Man Called Aita

With a brand new dream, a clarinet, and his suitcase in his hand.

The young Basque came to write his name in the history of this land.

Perhaps he was never famous but the world was a better place.

For the Basque who came and brought with him the faith of his proud race.

In the mountains of Wyoming where he first came to herd sheep,

How bitter were his lessons, how lonely was his sleep!

How many times he lay awake and looked up at starry skies,

Unable to see their beauty for the tears that filled his eyes.

How unbearably cold and lonely it must have been at times,

As he sat upon some windswept hill and wrote his songs and rhymes.

For the young man was a poet, a Basque “Bertzolari”;

And in later years he’d sing his songs to my brothers and to me!

With two dogs for companions, he spent six long years there.

He guarded all the lambs and sheep entrusted to his care.

He loved to dance, he loved to sing; to learn was a burning need;

For the greatest pleasure of his life was a good book he could read.

One day in his quest for books he found a copy of the Constitution.

And he quickly learned of the laws and rules that governed this great Nation.

He left Wyoming for Nevada, where his brother found them jobs;

And the two of them together, tended to the woolly “mobs.”

Now times were hard upon the land and wages seldom came.

Herders were sometimes paid in sheep; mostly the old and lame.

It was so, they built their own herds up and ran them on “tramp” ground.

It was hit and run, first come first served, there was no BLM around.

The grass was there and it was free, but the sheepmen fought each other.

It often came to troubled times with brother against brother.

And so it came to pass with them and bitter words were spoken;

Words that could never be recalled, so the partnership was broken.

The love between them still ran deep but forgiveness had been frozen.

They drifted apart and went their ways on the paths that each had chosen.

And each young man in his own way left his mark upon the land.

So my Father came to live his dream with his suitcase in his hand.

He labored well, and built his dream; he married sweet “Marie.”

He was always known as “Aita” by my brothers and by me.

New York Times celebrates Biarritz

Biarritz, photo by Gilles Guillamot via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times has published an article on the flourishing life of Biarritz on the Basque coast in France. Makes me want to go for a visit!!!

Read the article here!

Center Advisory Board gathers in Reno for 2017 meeting

Center graduate student Amaia Iraizoz presents her research project, on the return of Basques to the Basque Country after living in the United States, to the board.

This past weekend the Center’s distinguished Advisory Board came together in Reno for its annual spring time meeting. It is a very exciting time for the Center and the board with countless projects and events happening that we were proud to present to the Advisory Board members. The events started off on Friday night with dinner at Reno’s Louis’ Basque Corner and then resumed on Saturday with reports on discussions on many of the things that are going on at the Center including new initiatives, new publications, and much much more.

Eskerrik asko to all of the advisory board members who were able to make the trip, some all the way from the Basque County, and we can’t wait to see the ones who weren’t able to make it in the future!

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